There’s a lot of speculation in Hollywood. A ton of celebrities, quite understandably, prefer to keep their private lives just that. But with acceptance and equality at the forefront of many conversations, now more than ever, stars choose to lead by example by just being themselves. They challenge assumptions, break the mold, and shine a light on injustice and prejudices. Here are 18 celebs who are proud to be members of the LGBTQ community.
1. Matt Bomer
White Collar and Magic Mike star Matt Bomer got his start in the early 2000’s in soap operas like All My Children and Guiding Light. That’s a far cry from the life his father anticipated for him! Bomer’s dad, who was a Dallas Cowboys draft pick, expected his son to follow in his footsteps. Matt says he wasn’t “that good” at football, but he had no trouble finding his place on the A-list. Bomer has been married to Simon Halls for more than five years, and they have three children together.
2. Laverne Cox
As Sophia Burset on the Netflix prison drama Orange Is the New Black, Laverne Cox exudes strength, pride, and compassion. Both Sophia and Laverne are transgender women. Her real-life identical twin brother even plays her character, pre-transition, for the shows’ flashback scenes. As an activist, Cox has paved the way for other trans people through education and awareness. This nabbed the Emmy-nominated star an Honorary Doctorate from The New School.
3. Zachary Quinto
The star of Heroes, who plays Spock in the latest Star Trek movies, is also known for the range of roles he takes on for the ever-evolving hit show American Horror Story. Shortly after Heroes wrapped for good in 2010, Quinto came out as gay. Even though he had previously kept his personal preferences largely private, Quinto was an active supporter of LBGTQ causes before coming out. He claims he felt compelled to do so after the suicide of a bisexual teenager, explaining that there was much to do in the way of pursuing equality. He is currently dating model/artist Miles McMillan.
Star of That’s So Raven, The Cosby Show, and The View – not to mention the face at the center of the Cheetah Girls franchise! Raven Symone has been charming audiences since she was a little girl. You can label her an actress, singer, and host, but when it comes to her personal life, that’s where Raven draws the line. The Disney Channel legend has referred to herself as a lesbian, yet has also made statements inferring that she isn’t content to commit to just one identity, sexual or otherwise. She is a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage. Symone’s current relationship status is unknown after a 2015 breakup from her longtime partner, AzMarie Livingston.
5. Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry is a fascinating individual for sure. The British comedian, actor, writer, and documentary auteur began life as a juvenile delinquent, getting kicked out of school and doing time for stealing credit cards. Although he has had the honor of recording the audiobook versions of the Harry Potter series, American audiences may best recognize him for his role opposite Natalie Portman in the film V for Vendetta. Openly gay, Fry married Elliott Spencer in 2015. In 2007 he won an Emmy for a two-part documentary he was involved in about bipolar disorder, with which he has struggled.
6. Holland Taylor
Holland Taylor capped off the 90s in a fantastic way, winning an Emmy for her role on The Practice. She has since appeared in such films as The Truman Show and Legally Blonde. Taylor is gay, but never quite came out, because she didn’t need to! As she puts it, she “lives out”. After it was revealed that she was in a relationship with actress Sarah Paulson, many in the LGBTQ community were thrilled to add the industry veteran to the list of talented, highly influential people who just happen to prefer same-sex relationships.
7. Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson has worked hard over the course of her twenty-year-plus career; viewers have long enjoyed her roles on television shows like Deadwood and American Gothic. It was finally her work on American Horror Story, for which she has won a few Critics’ Choice awards, that really catapulted her to fame. She has since won an Emmy for her work on The People v. OJ Simpson. She describes her sexual orientation as “fluid”, having dated men in the past. More recently, Paulson was in a long-term relationship with actress Cherry Jones, and is currently linked to Holland Taylor.
8. Jim Parsons
How has Jim Parsons so deftly played the role of socially awkward physicist Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory for so many years? The character has made such an impression on the show’s massive audience that the idea he would have a separate and completely different identity never crosses viewers’ minds. In actual fact, it’s his long history as an accomplished stage actor that has made Parsons so convincing. Like many others, Jim never “formally” came out as gay, but in a 2012 interview readers learned the truth. The award-winning actor has been with his partner, Todd Spiewak, since 2002.
9. Kate McKinnon
The last few years have been incredibly kind to Kate McKinnon’s career. Her portrayals of Hillary Clinton and Kellyanne Conway have breathed new life into a previously struggling Saturday Night Live. Audiences still feeling the absence of hilarious female principals like Kristen Wiig and Amy Poehler can’t get enough of McKinnon. Also known for her spot-on impressions of Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres, McKinnon recently starred in the all-female Ghostbusters reboot. The openly gay actress is most recently known to be in a relationship with Marla Mindelle.
10. Cara Delevingne
Supermodel Cara Delevingne knows how to keep people guessing…and talking. Raised in British high society, Delevingne earned a reputation as a real party animal around the same time she began burning up runways for design houses like Chanel, Saint Laurent, and Stella McCartney. Then she did what few other models have successfully achieved by breaking into acting! Roles in films like Anna Karenina, Paper Towns, and Suicide Squad have made Delevingne a solid and respectable multi-hyphenate. The openly bisexual model-actress has been linked to many famous women, like musician St. Vincent and actress Michelle Rodriguez.
11. George Takei
George Takei is known far and wide on the internet as a witty, outspoken activist with a massive social media presence. As Sulu on the original Star Trek, Takei acted on 52 episodes during the television run and starred in the franchise’s well-loved string of films through the 70s and 80s. Aside from that, he has amassed hundreds of film and TV credits spanning more than half a century. He has also been openly gay since 2005, and is a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign’s Coming Out Project. He and his husband, Brad Altman, were the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license in West Hollywood in 2008.
12. Lana Wachowski
Lana Wachowski is a writer, producer, and director best known for her work on The Matrix films. She and her sister, Lilly Wachowski, are both trans women who began their career together as the “Wachowski Brothers”, writing films like V for Vendetta and Speed Racer. Over time, the former brothers were known simply as “The Wachowskis”. Lana transitioned first, coming out publicly as a transgender woman in 2012, though her name change had been noted a few years prior. Her sister Lilly came forward as trans in March 2016.
13. Neil Patrick Harris
Television actor Neil Patrick Harris, known for his roles on Doogie Howser, MD and How I Met Your Mother, is full of surprises. Movie watchers were speechless at his depraved – and hilarious – portrayal of himself in the Harold and Kumar films. Many more fans are amused to learn that he is a skilled magician. Others were also surprised when he came out as gay in 2006, and married his longtime boyfriend, David Burtka, in 2014. They have two children together.
14. Vanessa Carlton
Vanessa Carlton’s 2002 album Be Not Nobody was a breath of fresh air for a younger generation bored with the era’s teen pop explosion. The pianist and ballerina penned and performed her own hits, like “A Thousand Miles” and “Pretty Baby”. Given her display of raw talent in a sea of cookie-cutter recording artists, her sexuality wasn’t often discussed. No one believed it needed to be; Vanessa was in a relationship with Third Eye Blind front man Stephen Jenkins for years before going on to marry her husband, John McCauley. However, Carlton dispelled the notion that what’s publicly known is all there is to it by coming out as bisexual during a pride celebration in 2010.
15. Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen is one of the most beloved and respected actors to grace the stage and screen. Internationally lauded, he has performed in just about every genre, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991. He is currently best known for his role as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises. Sir McKellen came out as gay during a heated on-air debate over civil rights laws in 1988, a time when many other performers dared not discuss their orientation. McKellen, however, only regrets that he didn’t come out sooner.
16. Ellen Page
This Canadian actress was already pretty well known up north before starring in popular American films like Hard Candy and Juno. Ellen Page has also nailed lead roles in films like Whip It, X-Men, and Inception. Her bold performances can barely keep pace with the star’s outspoken activism; she’s been involved in numerous rights campaigns for humans and animals alike. She came out as a lesbian during a speech given for the Human Rights Campaign in 2014. She has revealed that she’s in a relationship with surfer Samantha Thomas.
17. Tim Cook
He may not be an actor, singer, or director, but Tim Cook is a massively influential public figure. Taking over as CEO of Apple following Steve Jobs’ death, Cook was catapulted overnight into the public spotlight. More than 700 million iPhones have been sold worldwide, and with IPads and MacBooks contributing heavily, Apple’s number of currently-active devices is at over one billion! The public looks to Apple for the latest in innovative, life-assisting technologies, and Tim Cook is ushering the preeminent tech company into the new era. He also confirmed that he is gay in 2014, saying that it’s among the “greatest gifts God has given me.”
18. Heather Matarazzo
Heather Matarazzo’s distinct beauty and talent first got her noticed around age 13, when she delivered a memorable performance as the cringe-inducing Dawn “Wienerdog” Wiener in the cult classic, Welcome to the Dollhouse. Since then, audiences have gladly watched Heather grow up on film and television. Roles in The Princess Diary movies, Saved!, The Devil’s Advocate, and Hostel II have proven that she has what it takes to evolve and enjoy longevity in her career. Matarazzo is also openly gay, becoming engaged to Caroline Murphy in 2008. The two have since split.